ED moves Delhi HC against order releasing Vivo India officials in money laundering case

The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday moved the Delhi High Court against an order for the release of three vivo-India executives in a money laundering case.

A vacation bench of Justice Tushar Rao Gedela issued notice on the agency’s plea challenging the trial court order of December 30, and said since the executives have already been released, no ex parte interim order can be passed at this stage.

“I would have been inclined (to pass an interim order) had we got a situation where they were not released,” the judge told the ED’s counsel.

“Since the respondents/ individuals have already been released in pursuance of the impugned order, no ex-parte ad-interim orders can be passed. However, keeping in view the urgency in the present matter, notices be issued to the respondents,” ordered the court as it listed the case for hearing on January 3.

On December 30, the trial court had directed the release of three vivo-India executives– Chinese national and interim CEO of vivo-India Hong Xuquan alias Terry, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Harinder Dahiya and consultant Hemant Munjal, observing that the accused were not produced before the court within 24 hours of the arrest and so their “custody was illegal”.

The three accused had moved the local court seeking bail and claimed they were arrested on December 21 and not December 22, as recorded by the ED, and since they were not produced before a court within 24 hours of their arrest, their arrest was “illegal and not sustainable in law”.

The ED counsel had, however, contested the claim, saying after the three were “formally arrested, they were supplied with grounds of arrest and produced before the concerned court within 24 hours from arrest.”

The agency has said the premises of the three accused were searched on December 21 and they were subsequently taken to the ED office for questioning and for a forensic analysis of their phones. They were formally arrested the next day on December 22, the ED told the court.

The ED raided vivo-India offices and the premises of those linked to it in July last year and claimed to have busted a major money laundering racket involving Chinese nationals and multiple Indian companies.

It had then alleged that Rs 62,476 crore was “illegally” transferred by vivo-India to China to avoid payment of taxes in India.

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